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State issues new Health Order, OC Health Care Agency launches COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Engagement Program

On August 11, the California State Public Health Officer issued a new health order that all public and private schools serving students in transitional kindergarten through grade 12 must verify COVID-19 vaccine status of all workers. The order does not apply to home schools, childcare or higher education. The State issued the order in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, with the Delta variant, which is twice as contagious as the original virus, being the most common variant causing new infections in California.

Orange County has also continued to experience an increase in COVID-19 cases. Between August 3 and August 10, the seven-day average case rate jumped from 14.8 to 19.4 per 100,000 people, with the average number of daily COVID-19 cases rising from 477 to 627. The positivity rate also increased from 7.2 to 8.3 percent, hospitalizations from 375 to 495 per day, and ICU admissions from 68 to 91 per day. Orange County COVID-19 case counts, and testing figures are updated daily, Monday through Friday, at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.  

On August 10, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the launch of the OC Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Vaccine Equity Engagement Program in an effort to accelerate the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, with a continued focus on the most vulnerable high-risk populations in Orange County. 

“Our OC Health Care Agency staff has been doing an admirable job in making COVID-19 vaccine clinics available throughout Orange County,” says Chairman Andrew Do, First District. “The Vaccine Equity Engagement Program will provide additional support for our community partners to ensure everyone has access to a vaccine. It is critical that we reach out to those areas that may be more difficult to connect with.”

The program provides an opportunity for community members to nominate collaboratives, volunteers and other organizations (especially smaller groups in hard-to-reach communities) for an opportunity to earn a coordination fee of $20 for every individual who receives either their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (with a preferred minimum of 50 individuals registered per event). The program’s $4.5 million in funding is made available from the State of California’s Government Operations Agency.

“We want to empower the people and organizations on the ground who know the residents of these communities best to reach out and ensure they have the information and access necessary to receive the vaccine,” says Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, Fourth District. “Our community partners are in a better place to understand what our residents need to overcome their barriers and challenges to getting vaccinated, and we want to be there to support them in this outreach and engagement.”

Through the Vaccine Equity Engagement Program, the HCA will oversee the criteria for organizations to host clinics, provide them with public health messaging resources to help them promote their events and communicate the importance of the vaccine to their community members, and collaborate with them on innovative ideas to increase engagement with residents such as donation and gift matching opportunities. 

“We have been seeing it over the past several weeks, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in Orange County, and the only way we will be able to bring those numbers down is by getting vaccinated,” says Dr. Clayton Chau, HCA Director and County Health Officer. “Those who are currently most at risk of getting sick or hospitalized from COVID-19 are the unvaccinated, so we know that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection as well as subsequent transmission and outbreaks. With the Vaccine Equity Engagement Program, we are proud to support our community partners in making the vaccine more accessible to our most vulnerable residents.” 

Interested organizations will be able to sign up to participate in this program and host vaccine clinics in partnership with the HCA through the Mobile Vaccine Service feature on the Othena platform. Additionally, the Othena platform now offers a new feature for any eligible individual who has scheduled a vaccination appointment to request free roundtrip rides to their appointment. They can now log in to the www.Othena.com website or smartphone app to request a ride to their appointment (residents are encouraged to request rides 3-5 days in advance and rides are subject to availability). 

To sign up for the Vaccine Engagement Program and host a community clinic, interested organizations can visit https://othena.com/mobilevaccineservice

Individuals looking to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment or complete their second dose can do so by visiting www.Othena.com or calling the OC COVID-19 Hotline at (714) 834-2000. 

For additional information on free or discounted rides to vaccination appointments, please visit Lyft or Uber websites.

For more information and resources on the COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County, visit www.covidvaccinefacts.com.

This article was released by Orange County Health Care Agency.